A couple of weeks ago Roger let me out of the office to attend the big 50th anniversary event for A Wrinkle in Time in NYC. I was going to post about this along with a piece on the new book design, but time’s moving on, so watch for a separate interview with Molly Leach about the book design next week.
Lots of bloggers have written about this event already, but it was truly a privilege to be there. Betsy Bird acted as M.C. and moderator, smoothing out what could have been some serious wrinkles given the time constraints and the varied cast of speakers:
- One of Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughters
- A panel discussion with Lois Lowry, Katherine Paterson, Rebecca Stead, and R. L. Stine
- Jane Curtin reading from the book
- A high school’s dramatic reading of a different passage from the book
- Leonard Marcus reading from HIS upcoming biography of L’Engle
Multimedia was used as an interstitial element before and between all of the above, starting with this to-die-for “90-second-Newbery” from James Kennedy:
The sold-out house, at least 1/3 full of kids, loved this! They also showed Macmillan’s new book trailer and a slideshow with audio from interviews with L’Engle and photos taken throughout her life.
It was hard to tell how many people in the audience were there for Wrinkle and how many were there to get books signed by members of the panel. R. L. Stine admitted that he only read the book a week ago, and none of the panelists really knew L’Engle, though Paterson met her a few times and felt intimidated. But Stead is and was a die-hard fan of the book, as anyone who has read When You Reach Me might have guessed. What I found most interesting about the panel discussion was the way all of them managed to praise the book’s emotional appeal to kids while hinting that it might not stand up to in-depth critical appraisal. I found this refreshing, and it’s a good lesson for all of us. Nothing will ever sway my devotion to Meg and her family, but it has taken me almost 20 years to get over the feeling of let-down when I re-read this book as adult and found it lacking in a literary sense.
Happily, I’ve gained perspective as I age and now have no qualms about celebrating a book that has profoundly affected so many children, including those us who now wear wrinkles of our own.